WITH only few personnel in its office along Legarda Road, the Department of Foreign Affairs-Baguio Consular Office has been working double time to attend to those who would want to get new passports.

Complaints have been lodged against the Baguio Consular Office to which its head, acting Regional Director Grace Clavecillas, said are normal considering that in other field offices in San Fernando and in their main office in Manila, people are already used to the long lines and scheduling they have to go through before getting a passport.

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Clavecillas said she is thankful that there are 15 on-the-job trainees to aid the regular plantilla because they cannot handle the 200 scheduled and 50 walk-in passport applicants every day.

She added they even work on holidays. Even Wednesday, inauguration day, the consular office was open to accommodate applicants for the new electronic passports.

"Machine readable passports are the thing of the past as we are now into electronic passports accepted in many countries especially in Europe," Clavecillas said.

Clavecillas said the office is now imposing the worldwide standard-approved passport of the international aviation authority and slowly phasing out machine readable passports.

"E-passports contain a microchip, which is easily scanned in major international airports particularly in Europe and the United States," Clavecillas said.

She added the e-passport is tamper proof because the microchip stores the passport holders photograph and personal information.

Aside from the microchip, the agency is also requiring those applying for passports to come in person as biometrics need to be taken, which include iris scan, thumbprint scanning and face recognition.

"This will safeguard passport holders from those impersonators and fake passport holders who will later give more security to passport holders leaving the country," Clavecillas added.

The new e-passport contains an automated fingerprint identification system, which guards against theft and fraud.

The e-passport also provided new features like invisible personal information, letter-screen, micro-printing, ultraviolet reactive ink, and enhanced biometric reading features.

"The same usual requirements will be brought by the applicants except from photographs as applicants are taken pictures using the e-passport data capturing machines," she added.

E-passports cost P950 or P1,200 for expedited passports.